Of Arms and the Man: Eric Holder on the Ramparts, at 19
By David Stout | October 5, 2012 1:25 pm

This just in. After an exhaustive investigation, The Daily Caller has confirmed that Attorney General Eric Holder (born Jan. 21, 1951) was 19 years old throughout most of 1970, and that he was not unaffected by the social upheavals of that time.

The DC has learned that Holder participated in student protests while at Columbia University, which back then was boiling over with debates not just about the Vietnam war but about the university’s relationship with the people who lived just outside the walls of ivy.

Oh, wait! The DC can’t claim a scoop on Holder’s involvement in protests. The Attorney General has long acknowledged that he was 19 in 1970 and that, indeed, he was a campus activist.

Eric Holder's 1973 Columbia University yearbook photo (University archives via Daily Caller)

“I was among a large group of students who felt strongly about the way we thought the world should be, and we weren’t afraid to make our opinions heard,” Holder said at Columbia’s 2009 commencement exercises, as The DC recalled. “I did not take a final exam until my junior year at Columbia — we were on strike every time finals seemed to roll around — but we ran out of issues by that third year.”

But there’s more. As a freshman at Columbia, the future law enforcer participated in a five-day occupation of an abandoned Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps headquarters “with a group of black students later described by the university’s Black Students’ Organization as ‘armed,’” The Daily Caller has reported. “Black radicals from the same group also occupied the office of Dean of Freshman Henry Coleman until their demands were met. Holder has publicly acknowledged being a part of that action.”

Details of the students’ occupation, including the claim that the raiders were “armed,” come from a deleted Web page of the Black Students’ Organization at Columbia, a successor group to the Student Afro-American Society. Holder was a leader of the SAAS, which demanded that the former ROTC office be renamed the “Malcolm X Lounge,” The DC recounts.

In the kind of caveat that is customary among circumspect journalists, the DC acknowledged that, “Contemporary newspaper accounts in The Columbia Daily Spectator, a student newspaper, did not mention weapons.”

And that would be because there were no weapons, a Department of Justice representative said, dismissing the claims as “simply false.”

Ah, but the DOJ’s assertion that there were no weapons cannot be proved, not after all this time, and not after studying the young Holder’s hair style. He could have concealed a handgun, and maybe a couple of hand grenades, in his Afro. He just might not have been able to find them.

The DC, whose orientation could be described as somewhat right of center, has also sought to remind people of President Barack Obama’s former ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the Chicago pastor whose inflammatory racial remarks the president has repudiated.

Speaking of inflammatory remarks, The DC labeled the president “a phony baloney of the first order” and “a race-hustling hack.” All right, give The DC credit. It doesn’t succumb to ambiguity.

But back to the era of Eric Holder’s youth.  Those who feel unalloyed nostalgia for it are probably too young to remember it. Some young people from that time wore flowers in their hair and were truly gentle when savoring the wonders of mind-altering substances. Others were much less gentle (see Manson, Charles).  Some young people of conscience were protesting on campus, even dying on campus (see Kent State University, May 4, 1970), while other young people of conscience were dying in rice paddies half a world away.

So young Holder and his fellow protesters wanted to change things. Nothing wrong with that, unless one thinks that Art Buchwald was being serious some years ago, when he told a graduating class that he and his contemporaries were bequeathing them “a perfect world — so try not to screw it up.”


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